Putin Picks the Worst of all Bad Choices

With the arrival of August, political expectations in Russia, informed by the long experience of setbacks and disasters, are turning negative. Second thoughts about the “victorious” war with Georgia that erupted six years ago blend with reflections on the centennial anniversary of World War I (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 6). At the same time, liberal-minded pundits remind the public about Russia’s 1998 fiscal default, while arguing that in a globalized world the most devastating battles are fought in the financial realm (Novaya Gazeta, August 6). Whereas, the smoke coming from the sunflower fields in eastern Ukraine, where the Moscow-backed separatist war smolders on, turns many minds from virtual to real-life battles as premonitions of a Russian intervention keep recurring. Against these forebodings, President Vladimir Putin gave marching orders last week not to Russian troops but to customs officials, imposing a comprehensive ban on imports of agricultural products from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway (see EDM, August 7; Polit.ru, August 7; Kommersant, August 8).

For the full text, see EDM, August 11, 2014.

Does it look like a Russian “humanitarian convoy”?


The Kursk day

Tommorow is indeed the Kursk day – it was on August 12, 2000 that the proud but unfortunate submarine sunk after an explosion on board during exercises in the Barents Sea. This picture of its crew (from a BBC documentary) marks a moment of remembrace. It is rather striking that on the eve of this day,… Read more »

The Art and Importance of Teaching Peace Research

Since 1969, PRIO has organized and taught a graduate-level course on peace research for the University of Oslo International Summer School. For six weeks, students from around the world learn about the most current topics in peace research, including why conflicts start, why and how conflicts endure, how peace can be built in the aftermath of conflict, and the ethics of warfare. Approximately 15 lectures are given during the course, many of them by PRIO researchers, providing a fantastic opportunity to showcase PRIO’s research to new and upcoming peace scholars and practitioners.

Summer School students 2014 with the PRIO coordinators.
Photo: Julie Lunde Lillesæter, PRIO

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State Briefing: Warrap State

Capital: Kuajok Approximate Population: 972,928. Internally Diplaced People (IDP) sheltering in the state: 8,800 Warrap State is located in the north of South Sudan, in the Greater Bahr el-Ghazal region. Warrap borders Abyei, a contested area between Sudan and South Sudan. The majority of Warrap’s inhabitants are Dinka, but Luo, Bongo and other smaller ethnic groups also… Read more »

This Week in South Sudan – Week 32

Monday 4 August An aid worker employed by Norwegian People’s Aid was killed in Maban County. The IGAD peace talks resumed. The Tonj South (Warrap) Commissioner survived an assassination attempt. South Sudanese officials in Canada announced their support for the SPLM/A-in-Opposition. South Sudanese internally displaced people expressed doubt in the peace talks’ ability to solve the… Read more »

West pushes and eases Putin toward a “Diplomatic solution” in Ukraine

Reflecting on the WWI anniversary.

Bad news hit the Kremlin thick and fast last week, but on Friday evening (August 1), President Vladimir Putin answered a phone call from US President Barack Obama, who again stressed that the Kremlin’s mounting problems can be resolved diplomatically (whitehouse.gov, August 1). Putin’s personal responsibility for the war in eastern Ukraine is apparently no longer up for discussion. Meanwhile, the West—after having vigorously mobilized a political effort to enforce far tougher sanctions than Moscow had budgeted for—is seemingly granting him an “honorable” way out. In Washington, and even more so in Berlin, there is understandable reluctance to heighten Putin’s desperation and to push him into a corner where further domestic mobilization against the “hostile” North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would be his only choice (Gazeta.ru, July 28). And yet, risk remains that Putin may be interpreting every offer for a compromise solution as a sign of weakness or as a trap aimed at undermining his credibility. Therefore, Obama did not hide his doubts about his irrationally thinking counterpart’s response to the West’s diplomatic message (RIA Novosti, August 1).

More in Eurasia Daily Monitor, 4 August 2014

The sanctions and the Arctic

In the debates on the impact of tougher sanction imposed by the US and the EU last week, one of the key issues is the scope of problems that Russia will encounter in developing the “green” oil and gas fields in the Arctic.  The Economist calls it Arctic Chill, and many other media speculate that Rosneft will have to… Read more »

Filipino Migration is Extraordinary

The population of the Philippines is surpassing 100 million in late July 2014. That’s a reminder of the country’s importance in global migration. Emigration generally has the strongest impacts in countries with relatively Scatterplot_300x300small populations, such as El Salvador, Armenia and Samoa. In fact, as the scatterplot shows, only five countries have remittance inflows representing at least 10 % of GDP and a population of at least 10 million people. Among them only Bangladesh and — as of July 2014 — the Philippines have populations of 100 million or more.

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This Week in South Sudan – Week 31

Monday 28 July The South Sudanese government rejected demands for suspension of new oil contracts. Critical food shortage was reported in Jonglei. The South Sudanese government announced that it is ready to resume peace talks with the opposition. The SPLM/A-in-Opposition launched a new membership form to organise its members. Tuesday 29 July The SPLA declared 10 politicians ‘illegal’… Read more »